We often hear from spiritual gurus who have been down a dark road, often with drugs and alcohol, and clawed their way back to a balanced life. But I often wonder, can we find a balanced life without first falling to a very dark place?
The answer is, sure we can! However, we need to employ two powerful skills that we all have, some laying dormant like a seed within us, waiting to be watered.
The two 'Rs,' redemption and resilience, are the most important skills to use if you’re a balanced person that wants to harness your passion and bounce back from disappointments with more oomph than ever. In addition to the two 'Rs,' I'm going to give you nine tips to help you stay balanced on your journey toward the best and most influential version of yourself.
Before we start, it's important to know that whenever you feel that you’ve lost control over your life, you should feel empowered enough to exercise your right as a living being to take a break to reconnect. Your boss might be upset with your decision to take a breather because you’re nearing a deadline, but when you’re crashing and burning, nothing else is more important than catching yourself before you’ve gone to far. If your boss is consumed with the “here and now task,” and not as worried about the team’s well-being, feel free to message them this article from an anonymous email account.
Let’s talk about the two 'Rs,' the most important skills to harness for a balanced person wanting to create the best and most influential version of yourself. I can’t say that I have a favorite 'R,' but I must declare that redemption feels so good that I completely savor the moments — I bet you enjoy it, too! When I use the word redemption, I'm describing the ultimate moments of proving yourself — not just the times when we redeem ourselves from doing something that's morally wrong. In this discussion, think of redemption as the winning shot, when you've really had a bad game up until that point. When we fire up the redemption trait that lies within us all, we turn on the hot furnace in our gut that says, “Whatever comes my way, bring it on! I have something to prove, and it’s about time that my number was called.”
When my husband Matt was 15, he lost his father and had a difficult time (not surprisingly) seeing clearly the life decisions that were ahead of him. College, career, etc. While he joined his uncle in NYC after high school, he managed a popular bagel shop in Manhattan. Most days, the shop was incredibly busy, and as a humble, unpretentious guy, he joined the line to help prepare bagels — which he did quite often. On this particular day, Matt’s third grade teacher joins the line and notices Matt. Her first and only words to him were, “Matt Joseph, is that you? I knew you’d never amount to anything.” Sure, this was such a small moment in Matt’s life, but that emotion of sheer redemption has been with him ever since that evil moment of humanity. Today, Matt would still serve bagels if he had to, but thankfully, he owns the top boutique real estate company in Miami. Redemption has been served: Matt worked hard every day to redeem his championing spirit.
So, if Matt already redeemed himself, why is resilience so important? Because he had to take that moment of ultimate insult, and bounce back. The wagon hits bumps in the road (third grade teacher and her insult), but we have to try and stay on that wagon, and not lose ourselves to someone else’s valueless opinion. In this case, Matt gave the lady her bagel, and kept putting one foot in front of the other to build the best version of himself — and boy did he do just that! The take-away is that resilience is a character building trait that we can employ to make a Cinderella comeback from the painful low-lows that teach us what it’s like to feel the euphoric high-highs.
As for myself, I have been an on-and-off again victim of overworking myself — as an entrepreneur, that’s quite understandable, right? Alas, it’s not always a healthy thing to do — and we all know that. Fortunately, I can recognize this feeling quite early on, and quickly remedy it with purpose driven exercises that help to bring me back to my safe, balanced foundation.
Whenever I feel like the fourth wheel is about to fall off from burning the candle at both ends, I fall back on these important exercises to remind myself that life is a balance, not an up-and-down, flipped around and sidewinding roller coaster ride. Here are some fabulous and free ways to find your balance when you feel like your life is spinning out of control.
I love to sweat every day. To me, it’s a time where only the here and now exists — no work emails, no travel plans — it’s just me, challenging my body to get stronger and to focus on my personal wellness. This disconnection from the rest of the day and week allows me to reconnect with the safe and balanced foundation of who I am as a happy individual.
2. Meditate and practice yoga.
Every Sunday morning, I go to yoga as a way to treat my body to an hour and a half of life in slow motion. Slow, sweaty movements forcing myself to focus on deep breathing and controlled movements. When the sweat from my work starts to drip in my eyes and blur my vision, I start to lose one of my senses, enhancing the others — in my case, my mind really focuses on feeling the work, instead of having to see it in front of me. The same goes for life: if you close your eyes and allow your senses to heighten, you can feel your way through your work — which can be quite exciting and rewarding, making decisions without too much foresight; live for the moment.
3. Do what you love.
I drift toward my passion-driven enjoyments on a daily basis, to keep me renewed and ready for the next challenge that lies ahead. These enjoyments, for me, are swimming in the ocean, being in nature and noticing the miracles as small as a blade of grass (and being surrounded by bazillions of them — that’s pretty cool!), spending time with my family, volunteering, walking my dog. If you take a look at your own enjoyments, I bet most of them are free and easy enough to do everyday (at least one of them).
4. Allow yourself to do nothing.
When I’ve been traveling from city to city and country to country, working as a model, I can be so physically exhausted. I want nothing more but to go home, lay in my bed, midday, in the most comfortable pajamas, and do nothing. This is a healthy activity to allow yourself to digest what you’ve done so that you can move forward with a fresh mind.
5. Hunt miracles.
Blowfish, Barracudas and 50 lb Amberjack. Every morning, Matt and I go treasure hunting for miracles. We go for a nice sunrise walk before the city starts to buzz with traffic and people, and we breathe in the miracles around us. We love to stroll along the bay, to say hello to a huge blowfish that lives among the mossy rocks, see our friend the sleeping barracuda, and catch a glimpse of the occasional 50 lb amberjack that darts by us, looking for a nice breakfast. These miracles bring us back to the realness of life; the fleeting moments that pass us by on our busy days, but moments that are important enough that we can’t help but stop to recognize them every morning. Discovery in nature is the bible to our world.
6. Take a vacation.
Vacations are a great way to disconnect to reconnect with life. I love traveling to places where Internet is relatively hard to get, because you lose the urge to check your phone all the time, and relearn what it feels like to engage with feelings, moments and life.
7. Be a reed in the water.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to picture myself as a reed in the ocean. There are big crushing waves, calm flat waters, and living creatures that live among my strength — and somehow, the reed always surfaces unharmed, stronger, and with the wisdom that the last storm imparted.
8. Sing out loud.
Sing something out loud — go ahead, do it! Don’t you feel better already? The release of happy vibrations makes you feel happier, even when, just seconds ago, you were depleted of energy or down on yourself. For instance, if Matt and I are in the car, and I can see that he’s stressed, I’ll grab a water bottle, start singing in to it, and then hand it over to him to finish my lines. I do this several times and eventually he’s smiling and laughing, thinking about how silly we look and how serious we were about singing the song.
If I have no time to exercise the previous eight tips, visualization is always a great choice. Someone once told me to shut my eyes and imagine lying out on my favorite beach. In my mind, he guided me to the beach — the hot, sweaty walk full of the anticipation to jump in the water — and then he told me to imagine lying in my favorite spot. He would ask, “How does it feel? What are you drinking or eating? Who are you with? What’s the temperature?” If you can shut your eyes at your desk and guide yourself through your happiest visualizations, you almost feel as if it were the real thing.
Photo Credit: Mary Beth Koeth